The 2017 US Open in tennis, which takes place from August 28th to September 10th, will mark the 137th year of the championship and the last Grand Slam of a year that has been filled with first-time major winners, exciting upsets, and records shattered at the hands of all-time greats. Every year, the US Open is preceded by the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon, in that order. The championship has been held at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York since 1978. There have been two first-time winners of Grand Slam titles in women’s singles this season, and this trend could very well continue at the US Open. However, while it does appear that a younger generation of tennis players is poised to take over, the longest shadows continue to be cast by those who have already left their mark upon the game.
The US Open has been held yearly since 1881, making it older than the French and Australian Opens, and four years younger than Wimbledon. It was first held as a men’s singles and doubles competition. A women’s singles tournament did not come into being until 1887. This was followed by the introduction of women’s doubles in 1889 and mixed doubles in 1892. In 1968, all five tournaments were consolidated into the US Open Tennis Championships that we know today. This occurrence has been called the single most important event in tennis history and has resulted in the period from 1968 on being dubbed the “Open Era.”
The 1968 US Open was also the first time that professional players were allowed to play with amateurs. Previously, only amateurs had been able to compete in Grand Slam tournaments. Since then, tennis has advanced in leaps and bounds. After opening the door to professionals, Grand Slam tournaments began to award winners prize money, allowing players to make a living by playing the sport. Tennis went on to develop into an international economic and cultural phenomenon, becoming widely popular around the globe.
At the US Open, countless records have been set and broken over the years, as many of the game’s greats have left an indelible mark on the championship’s history. Three players have won the men’s singles five times: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer, who won five years in a row (2004-2008). Molla Bjurstedt Mallory won the women’s singles eight times between 1915 and 1926, representing Norway during her first four wins, and the US during the other four, her last win occurring in 1926 when she was 42. She and Chris Evert are the only players who have won four consecutive women’s singles tournaments.
This Year’s Open
2017’s Grand Slams have seen much excitement, a few surprises, and a mixture of old and new faces holding the trophies. At the Australian Open, Roger Federer and Serena Williams won the men’s and women’s singles, respectively. It was Federer’s first Grand Slam title since 2012 and Williams’ eighth Grand Slam in the last five years. Rafael Nadal won the men’s singles at the French Open, making him the first tennis player in the Open Era to win ten titles from a single Grand Slam tournament. However, perhaps the most astonishing win at the French Open was pulled off by nineteen year old and 47th in the world Jeļena Ostapenko, who came out on top in the women’s singles. She became the first Latvian woman to win a Grand Slam singles tournament and ascended to a career-high ranking of No. 12.
At Wimbledon, Federer won the men’s singles for the eighth time, making him the oldest player to win, as well as the player with the most men’s titles in Wimbledon history. Garbine Muguruza had a big win against Venus Williams to take the women’s singles title and her first major victory. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic left Wimbledon with hip and elbow injuries, respectively, and it is yet to be seen whether these will trouble them in the US Open. However, Federer and other top-ranked players who performed well at Wimbledon, such as Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Marin Cilic, who lost to Federer in the final, should be expected to play well in the US Open. Last year’s winner, Stan Wawrinka, may even make a run at the title. In the women’s singles, Muguruza will be hard pressed to win another Grand Slam, with Johanna Konta, Simona Halep, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and other players who were in good form at Wimbledon, hungry to get it done at the last Grand Slam of the year.